How do you know if you have what it takes to start a business? There’s really no way to know for sure, but entrepreneurs do have some things in common among their emotional and family makeup that could guide them in that direction. It starts with an entrepreneurial fire in your belly. Not everyone has it.
Here’s a brief quiz to see if you’ve got what it takes:
Do you come from a line of people who couldn’t work for someone else? We don’t mean that in a negative way. People who are successful at establishing their own businesses tend to have had parents who were entrepreneurs. It’s usually easier to get a job with a company than to start your own business; people who strike out on their own often have the direct example of a parent who made it on their own.
Are you a lousy employee? No need to sugarcoat this one. People who start their own businesses tend to have been fired from or quit more than one job. This differs from being laid off for lack of work or voluntarily moving from one job to a better-paying one. You were asked to leave, or you quit before they could fire you. Think of it as the marketplace telling you that the only person who can effectively motivate and manage you is yourself.
Do you see more than one definition of “job security?” You probably know a couple of people who have stayed with one employer for 25 or 30 years. They look very secure, but add them up. We’ll venture a guess you can count them on one hand. In a rapidly changing economy, job security can be frighteningly fleeting.
Have you gone as far as you can go in your current position, or do you feel you’re not going anywhere at all? Sometimes the motivation to start a new venture comes from having reached a pinnacle of success where you are right now, looking around, and saying, “What’s next?” Early success can be wonderful, but early retirement can sometimes drive energetic and motivated people totally crazy.
Have you done some market research already? If you have put some time into figuring out if there’s a market for your product or service, you’re well down the entrepreneurial path. This research is critical to your success. As the people behind any number of failed Internet ventures will tell you, “cool” doesn’t necessarily translate into “profitable.” Build it only if you’re sure there’s a good chance the customers will come.
Do you have the support of your family? Starting a business is stressful under the best of circumstances. Trying to do it without the support of your spouse or other significant family members or friends would probably be unbearable.
Do you know that no matter how good you are, you cannot do it alone? You might excel at promoting a business. Maybe you love running the financial end of the enterprise. You could be someone who starts a business because you have unique creative or technical know-how to create a product. Proficiency at any of the above can add up to entrepreneurial success, but it’s unlikely that you are going to excel at all of these tasks or at all of the tasks involved in running a business. You are going to need some help sometime. If you are adept at aligning yourself with the right team, your odds of success increase.
So, how many of these questions garnered a “Yes”? It doesn’t take all of these categories to be a good candidate for entrepreneurship, but it probably wouldn’t hurt. In general, the more you have in common with these characteristics, the closer you probably are to being ready to try going out on your own. What’s your next step?